Entries Tagged as 'commentary'

movember 2017 – here I grow again

Peter K. O'Connell Movember 2017

The first of November is both a happy and sad day in my house, none of which has anything to do with Halloween candy.

With the return of Movember, most of the people in my house are happy that I am whisker-free for one full day. Everyone in my family hates (underline h-a-t-e-s) my facial hair. However, I was also told numerous times by that same group that I look weird without my whiskers.

They are also sad to know that for the rest of the month I will be growing it back.

Movember logo_250But the shaving and regrowth come with a purpose. Movember is celebrating its 10-year fundraising anniversary in the U.S., bring attention to and directing funds towards critical men’s health issues including: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

I only participate in one charity event per year and this is it.

If you would be willing to donate, that would be great.

Here is a link to MY MOVEMBER PAGE.

Thank you for your generous consideration.

death of the voiceover blog?

Death of the Voiceover Blog?Sometimes we as voiceover business owners are so focused on the operations of our business, the business of doing business, we neglect to paint our stores and sweep our steps.

The ‘stores and steps’ references our web sites. We often look at our sites from the back of the house instead of standing out front and looking at what the visitors see.

A while ago I wrote a blog post about checking out what your web site looks like by going to electronic retailers and calling up your web site on various computers, tablets and phones.

While that applies to web sites, that advice also applies to blogs.

I’ve had a blog since 2005 and in those 12 years, I’ve written a lot about voiceover, marketing and advertising (over 1,300 posts). That’s why I named the blog voxmarketising. In all those posts there are some real golden nuggets and some absolute crap. Trial and error, baby!

But one of the areas of blog management I had fallen way behind in was managing all the links I had listed on my blog to all my fellow voiceover bloggers. It was my way of sharing the blog love by listing their blog link, in the hopes that they would do the same. Some did, some didn’t.

But recently, I did a complete review of all the blogs I had listed on my site to see what blogs were still active and what blogs had given up the ghost.

Over 80 (EIGHTY) voiceover blogs were just cut from my web site because they hadn’t published in 3 or more years or because their bloglink just went nowhere any more.

There were probably 10 or so links that needed to be updated and they have been.

But 80 dead blogs was an amazing number.

Why so many? Based on what I saw and what I know, here are my theories

  • Some folks started blogging about voiceover because they thought they were supposed to for better web traction – they had no desire to blog and no point of view in their writing so they just quit
  • Some people clearly didn’t not make it in the VO business — so why blog about voiceover when one is now selling life insurance?
  • Some folks just got bored with the process of blogging

Sure there may be a myriad of other reasons and all of them are legitimate. Blogging is not mandatory in the voiceover or any other business (unless you’re in the blogging business, then I suppose it’s pretty mandatory.

But does blogging help or even impact a voice talent’s business? That depends.

From a broad perspective, blogging should help a voiceover talent’s business for SEO. If one is blogging about their industry, using a widely accepted blogging platform like WordPress (either as a blog or as part of an overall web site), that alone should generate attention from search engines like Google and Yahoo.

Digging down a little further, if a blogger’s content gains enough interest from a targeted audience and the blogger builds up a dedicated readership, that subsequent attention also generates positive SEO notice and builds the credibility of their brand and reputation.

So SEO is the only reason to blog? No, but it’s a big one because depending on what you write, you may enjoy some unexpected organic word search success. Sure you can buy word search, but organic is less financially cumbersome.

I think in voiceover, there are primarily two types of bloggers – thought leaders focused on SEO (and listening to myself, ‘er, um THEMSELVES speak) and then coaches who want to sell services and also enjoy some SEO love. Neither is bad. Blogs are a marketing tool…just decide what you are marketing what your audience wants to hear.

But what if you aren’t a coach and you don’t think you have a thought that worthy enough to lead anything? Should you still blog?

That’s a personal question.

Blogging requires some sort of commitment. Obviously time but, maybe more importantly, thought.

For bloggers, I think the smart foundation for having a blog should not be ‘what CAN I write about’ but rather ‘what do I WANT to write about?’. Because if you don’t have a real desire to write about something at least about 6 times a year, then blogging is not a tool for you.

Don’t worry, there are other marketing tools, but blogging will not be one of them for you. 80 of my voiceover peers, many of them well known to voiceover community, found that out the hard way. It was not the end of their careers, it was just the end of blogging….for them.

For the rest of us…full steam ahead.

P.S. If you check my blog page and see I’ve gotten the wrong link for your site, you can contact me at peter at audioconnell dot com. Of course, you DO have a link to my page on your blog site, right?!

P.P.S. If you have a voiceover blog that I do not have listed on my blog site and you would like it listed there (and you’re going to offer me a link to my blog as well) please let me know.

of elevator speeches and making mistakes

Elevator Speeches

Oh yes, elevator speeches.

You know why I sometimes question people who absolutely KNOW they are right and have the correct answer?

Because, at various times in my life, I was absolutely certain I knew the right and correct answer. Except after some time and upon further review, I was wrong.

You want to know when I was wrong? Or maybe you already know when I was wrong…there have been many examples.

Here’s one.

This weekend, I was again clearing out moving boxes (oh, there are so many more to go still) and I came across some old USB sticks. Not knowing what was on them, I plugged them in and came across a file that said “Elevator Speech”. It was written in 2007.

I knew what an elevator speech was and what it was supposed to convey. And evidently, at that time, I had an idea for a dandy elevator speech.

It read: “For my clients, I turn their marketing confusion into cash by taking their branding message, service proposition or educational objective and producing professional audio productions that cut through the clutter of any marketing channel they choose. This can include audio for commercials, corporate videos, the internet, message on hold or any other marketing vehicle that uses audio.”

Two things immediately happened when I started reading what I wrote in 2017.

First, I heard in my head the words blah, blah, blah. I was critiquing my own prose and I hated it. I also realized that I am pretty sure this quote never saw the light of day because I never remembered saying it to anyone (thank God!).

Second, the following phrase popped into my head like a lightening bolt.

The phrase was: “I use my voice to make money for people who use any kind of audio in their marketing.”

Evidently, the correct answer for my elevator speech had been gesticulating in my head for 10 years, picking this weekend to emerge.

Why do I tell this embarrassing story on myself?

First, the older I get, the less embarrassed I get.

Further, I am not so unique or special that I could be the only voice-over talent (or even small business owner) that this sort of thing has happened to….in fact, we all make marketing mistakes. We come up with ideas that we think are brilliant or at least perfect at the time but upon review, we realize the idea was mediocre or just bad.

Combining the following truths – many voice talents specifically think I know ‘so much’ about marketing along with the fact voice actors are so intimidated by doing marketing – led me to the conclusion that I wanted to show that mistakes happen to everybody.

The example here is about an elevator speech but that is not the focus of the message. The focus is this:

Don’t be afraid of making a mistake, be assured you will make a mistake…but know you’ll also come up with some great stuff too along the way. Success, I think, is being able to tell the difference.

We have evolved over our history (in big ways and small ways) because we tried new ideas, because we had faith in our ideas and because we had faith in ourselves. My 2007 elevator speech looks to be a bit of stinker now but it’s poetry compared to those who didn’t even make the effort to better communicate their business message to their consumer.

Make the effort, take the risk. The reward is not only in the succeeding but also in the trying.

what does your web site look like?

Peter K. O'Connell Web Site Layout

My oldest needed some “mall therapy” last night so we walked through a variety of stores that sold stuff nobody really needed but some folks thought they wanted.

We walked through the Apple store looking at all the new fangled devices and then I did the thing that all Fathers like to do to their children.

I embarrassed my child.

What I did was open the browser on different models of computers: big ones, small ones, portable ones…all of them, then typed in my voiceover web site domain.

She found it embarrassing partly because it was my web site on these screens and partly because I’m her Father and this was in a mall and Daaaaaaaaa!

My purpose actually wasn’t to embarrass anyone but rather to check and see how my web site looked on a variety of different screens with updated software.

See, we all assume our website designs and layouts look good everywhere because that what the designers say and that’s what they are supposed to do….look good everywhere.

But technology changes and sometimes upgrades on different computers and devices can alter the look of a website in ways you don’t expect.

So next time you are in an Apple store or Microsoft store or Best Buy or someplace that shows a variety of different screens and allows you to surf the web, surf to your own web site.

Make sure it looks and interacts the way it’s supposed to. If it works perfectly well, then you don’t need to do a thing.

If not, make whatever changes you need to keep it updated.

I’m sure you’d rather know about a problem now than find out about the issue from a prospective or current client.

voiceover business card story

Peter K. O'Connell Voiceover Business Card

Over the weekend, audio producer Brad Newman was evidently looking at all the business cards he collected at FaffCon 9.

He saw that I had not one but two new business card designs.

He posted a picture on social media and it started a discussion because folks had questions. Why the two cards? Why the different designs? Why didn’t Minnesota beat the Yankees in the wild card series? Lots of questions.

So I thought I would do a quick overview on the two cards which will also bring you up to speed on my marketing changes (if you’re some kind of marketing stalker).

OLD CARD

  • 2017 O'Connell Business Card Old The relatively cheaper old cards were crafted while I was trying to get some new, fancier cards made
  • My original goal was to update all my voiceover branding since I moved to North Carolina; I would adopt the dark blue light blue scheme that was a tip of the hat to the University of North Carolina’s color scheme (not exactly like theirs but in the family)
  • I also had a graphic idea for really highlighting the phrase “Voice Over Talent” and explaining the type of work that involves (because I’ve had to continuously explain what a voiceover does for 35+ years)
  • I was trying to do a plastic card, as I had done before with cards I did while in Buffalo, but my old vendor screwed up the new blue design TWICE and after that, he got fired
  • You’d be surprised at what a complete pain in the butt it is to try and RGB and PMS color match light blues – ridiculous
  • For the old cards, I found a vendor who did the thick paper cards who also painted the sides
  • He could not do a PMS color do I got stuck with that crazy bright blue
  • The weight of the card was really nice as was the painted edge
  • As nobody else was going to be as bothered by the color situation on the old card as I was…I lived with that old card for a while

As time went on, I knew I wasn’t happy with the old card and, even more so, with the word mark itself which I felt needed help.

As much as I liked the word mark font on the old card, the full word mark did not make the brand name (which happens to be my name) stand out. I wanted a font for the brand name that looked personalized, which would then be supported by the tag line in that font I used on the old word mark.

I could have tried actually printing my name and making that part of the logo, except my printing Sucks with a capital S.

So I look at thousands (truly thousands) of hand script fonts that conveyed friendly, fun and masculine.

Trying to find a masculine looking hand script font that also doesn’t look like it was written by some kind of angry demon is not as easy as you’d think.

Remember, I was trying to convey friendly to support the tag line “Your Friendly, Neighborhood Voiceover Talent”. Worse some of the “male” based script font sure looked awfully girly to me and many of my voiceover peers, whose opinions I sought throughout this process.

Two things then happened kind of simultaneously. I found the font I really liked for the brand and I found a new vendor for printing the plastic cards. It would look good but it would not be cheap.

NEW CARD

  • 2017 O'Connell Business Card NewWorking with the new brand font and old tagline font within the blues color scheme, my designer came up with the logo idea of making everything flush right…I thought it worked really well, so I carried that thought through on the front of the business card where everything is flush right
  • I tried to make the font sizes bigger….small font size may be cool but readability is where it’s at for business cards and my eyes are getting old – bigger font size and a bit bolder
  • My designer also PATIENTLY helped me narrow down my PMS color choices…she deserves combat pay for babysitting me through that debacle
  • I really liked the way the back of the card (all dark blue with white VOICE OVER TALENT) worked on the old card so kept it on the back of the new card
  • The card size as you may have noticed is bigger than the old card…it is credit card size
  • I added a clear coating on all the front and on the white VOICE OVER TALENT…really makes a nice impact

So then why did I bring two sets of cards to FaffCon? Well I didn’t really. I brought mostly the old cards to distribute because I wanted to get rid of them and my peers aren’t likely to be as impacted by my card design as real prospects. I handed out a few of the (expensive) new ones to a few Faffers.

Now you know more about my business cards than you ever wanted to…hope this helps.

with your social media branding – get the picture!

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent facebook

So many voiceover talents tell me that they don’t have time for marketing. That’s usually code for ‘I don’t know how to do it and that fact scares the pants off me!’

Other voice talents are little more honest and say they don’t know what to do or how to start.

Whether it’s marketing, accounting, legal documents or technology, we each have elements of running a business that scare us because we don’t know how or where to start. Me too.

My plan is usually to contact someone who specializes in the area I am clueless in and at least get started in some direction.

For business, I have a greater affinity for marketing (I’m not an expert….NO ONE in voiceover is a marketing expert and if they tell you otherwise, run away!).

What I’ve noticed is that soooo many voice talents are missing a simple yet prominent branding opportunity that is easy to set up. Oh, and it’s FREE!

So what I thought I’d offer is a really quick step that will offer a little boost to your branding. It involves Social Media and you don’t have to pay for anything.

 

IT’S SIMPLE AND EASY SO WHY NOT?

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent SoundcloudMost of us in voiceover have social media accounts on channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and SoundCloud. There are a million others and what I will cover here will probably be applicable to those others.

Most of us in voiceover also have some kind of logo (a specifically designed image with or without words to represent your company) or word mark (just your name or company name in a specific font or design) that we use to brand our voiceover businesses on web sites or printed materials like business cards.

But many voice talents with the aforementioned social media accounts, who also have these logos or word marks, do NOT put the two elements together on their social media pages. I know because I just look at some social media accounts for some fairly well known talent and I saw blank spaces where banners should be.

That’s not smart for many reasons.

First, it’s easy to upload and place these images on social media channels. Second, most voice talents have links on their business web sites to their social media pages and when a visitor clicks on the link, they will notice the branding is inconsistent (or maybe not really know where they are and lose interest. Third, some prospects may come across you/your company via social media FIRST and not your web site.

So it would probably be a good and easy thing to make sure your social media pages have your branding on them. I’ve yet to come up with a reason as to how that kind of business branding can hurt a business social media account.

 

WHAT IS BUSINESS AND WHAT IS PERSONAL

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent TwitterAs many people as there are on social media, there is an equal amount of different reasons people participate on social media. If you ask 10 people, you’ll get 10 different answers.

Most people who do not own their own business use most social media channels for personal reasons and that’s fine. But if you have a business web site (and thereby your own voiceover business) and you have social media channel links on that web site, those social media channels that your business web site is linking to better have some professional branding.

Can you have both personal and business social media accounts? Sure. But on your business web site, only link to your professional social media pages, not the personal ones. On your business social media pages, show them your talents, your knowledge and your shiny, happy, professional side.

To specifically address business versus personal on social media, let’s talk about one of the most informal and popular social media channels, Facebook. Here’s how I do it and you can take this for what it’s worth.

I don’t link to my personal Facebook page from my voiceover web site. I set up a business Facebook page and that’s the only Facebook link I share from my business web site. Why?

Maybe on another day I’ll post something new about how you should post only professional things on business social media pages but I also kinda think if you need me to tell you that at this point, you’ve got bigger business problems than branding.

If you’re directing clients to your business social media pages – there should be no political, religious or personal public discussions or fights. You are a vendor, you are to be professional and that’s it.  If you disagree, I respect your opinion and would like to advise there is nothing on this or any other page that can help you. You should move from this place and good luck.

 

SIMPLE BRANDING ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Peter K. O'Connell Male Voiceover Talent LinkedInFor the purpose of this post, I just want to focus on your profile image and most especially your banner. If you handle these two items well, then you completed some valuable marketing tasks.

Most everybody has posted at least a profile picture on their social media pages. This usually leads to a discussion about if a profile picture on a business social media page should have a picture of you, the voice talent or your logo.

I think the answer is: it depends.

Some channels like LinkedIn strongly advise you use a picture of yourself. On LinkedIn, I agree. For Twitter and other channels, it depends on your branding and in some instances, what you are comfortable with.

Remember, with a profile space, it’s fairly small so any logo (or if you’re like me, a secondary logo) needs to be able to be pretty recognizable in that small space. A highly detailed logo will likely not be visually useful.

If you go with a personal picture of yourself, it does not have to be a professional head shot, just a nice, usually smiling and clear shot ….not you wearing a lampshade or you holding a beer. Common sense, I know, but as we all experience on a daily basis, common sense is not so common.

So let’s get to that social media page banner. Do you have a logo you really like? Or a studio shot that might have a little corner logo? Or maybe a cool shot of you recording something in a studio? All these ideas and I’m sure many others will help tell people you are a professional voice talent.

All would make good social media page banners. Just make the image consistent with your branding.

That’s it! That’s the entire purpose of this branding exercise.

 

HOW DO I GET THE BANNER SIZE CORRECT FOR MY PICTURE

The honest answer is I don’t know.

I can only tell you how I do it. It ain’t pretty but it works.

I have downloaded countless social media banner size templates and directions over the years and maybe I’m just ignorant (a real possibility) but the numbers and the sizing tools I use (probably incorrectly) just don’t match up.

For me it’s trail and error.

I start with Power Point. This is all done on my MacBook Pro, so how you work with Power Point on your computer may vary but most options listed should be pretty close to these directions (I hope).

These will LOOK like a lot of steps but I am trying to be super clear, so once you actually do it, it won’t feel like as many steps. Do not be overwhelmed, these directions are not hard.

From to tool bar window, I go to File and then I go to “page setup” — the “size” window will come up

  • I believe the default set up (depending on which version of power point you are using) will come up as “On-screen show (4:3)”
  • Change that setting to “On-screen show (16:10)”
  • Save that page as a .ppt document, title it something like “social media banner” or something equally creative
  • Make sure the page is laid out horizontally by clicking on the page layout icon on this same page size pop-up screen, then click OK
  • From the tool bar at the top of the power point page, click on “Insert” go down to “Photo” and then you might get another option that allows you to pick “Picture from photo”
  • Find the picture you want to use, click to insert it on the Power Point page and it should appear on your
  • How you adjust the photo on the Power Point page will depend on the operating system you’re using so I will not try and direct you here
  • Some pictures (not logos) can easily fill the banner space…if that’s the case with your chosen image, then awesome
  • I will say you will likely want a lot of white space around your image (especially if your image is a logo) to be able to work with the banner space within most social channels…of course, some images are big and you may just want to fill the banner with the image….that works too…it all depends on the image
  • So if you have the image the way you want it (or the way you THINK you want it until you upload it to the social media channel banner space to see how it will actually lay out), you should save it twice…once as a ppt file (which means just hit save) and then again as a .png file
  • You should be able to click the “Save As” button and when the window pops up, there will be a drop down window which will say .ppT. ….. click on that and you should get a selection of file types….pick .png and hit save
  • Go over to your social media channel, click on the profile page and find the banner space; if you are signed into your account, there should be a button on that page that says “Update image”, click on that, a window of some sort will pop up that says pick photo
  • Follow the windows to your photo and insert it
  • It may give you the option to adjust the picture or zoom in on the picture (this is where all the white space comes in handy)
  • Position the picture where you think it would look best -when you are happy with it, click save…done
  • When you look at the finished picture on the page layout, you may decide you need to re-size or adjust (as I usually do)…don’t get frustrated as this happens to many folks…just adjust on the PPT, re-save as a .PPT and .PNG and upload the new. PNG file with your adjustment

Remember to do this on ALL your social media channels. Hope this helps.